NU football team seeks positive turn
Considering the course his team has taken in the past five weeks, the first substantial losing streak in his 17-year stint as Nevada Union’s head coach, Dave Humphers has found his program in some uncharted waters.
Each week, since a season-opening 20-14 win over Atwater, his Miners have hit the field determined to deliver NU back to the win column and turn things around. And in each of the past five weeks, the Miners have been turned away.
“Bouncing back is the challenge,” said Humphers, whose Miners (2-4) host Laguna Creek (3-3) in Delta Valley Conference action tonight at Hooper Stadium. “And the responsibility of that challenge is really on all of us, as coaches and as players, too.
“It’s really a credit to this group of young men how well they bounce back each week and keep working together.”
The Miners regained a loss after Franklin of Stockton had to forfeit its wins from the last three seasons because of alleged recruiting violations. The team can still appeal.
Though the lineup of young men who will hit the field tonight has seen several changes since the season opener Ð necessitated both by a laundry list of injuries and players earning a starting slot by outperforming teammates in practice Ð Humphers offers no excuses for the disappointing defeats.
Instead, he focuses on the positive things his team has done, that if continued could eventually lead to continued success. He knows such talk might sound like Pollyanna to those on the outside looking in.
But, quite frankly, he doesn’t much care how it might sound.
“What I care about is that our team believes,” Humphers said. “When we watch film of the game, I can support what I’m saying.
“It’s down to things, where if we wouldn’t have committed this mental mistake or if I would have called a better play in this situation, it could have played out differently.”
In each of the past four weeks, the Miners have produced promising starts only to fall short in the fourth quarter. Aside from a 33-21 loss to Del Oro Ð in which the Miners led 14-7 at halftime Ð Nevada Union has been within one score of the opponent through three quarters of play.
Heading into the fourth quarter in week four, the Miners trailed Granite Bay 24-20, but fell 36-23. Two weeks ago, the Miners were well within striking distance of Franklin of Stockton, at 25-21, but the Yellowjackets posted 20-0 unanswered points to cap the contest.
And last week, after taking a 14-0 halftime lead and a 20-15 advantage through three quarters of play, Nevada Union again fell short of stopping the skid in a 21-20 loss to Franklin of Elk Grove.
If the streak stops tonight, Nevada Union will have defeated a DVC rival who has been beaten only by some of the area’s top teams. Laguna Creek’s losses have come to defending Division I section champ Vacaville (6-0) and the top contenders for the Sierra Foothill League in Granite Bay (5-1) and Rocklin (6-0).
Keenan Williams, a junior running back, has led Laguna Creek’s ground game with 638 yards and five touchdowns. Kenneth McElroy, another junior, has 330 yards and two touchdowns rushing. Quarterback Wyatt Jiru has thrown for 634 yards and four touchdowns, but also has six interceptions and a 44 percent completion percentage.
Nevada Union will counter with a team that had its best rushing attack last week (220 yards) since the win over Atwater (333 yards), but also a squad that had its most penalties (12 penalties for 96 yards) since the lone victory (13-108).
“Our team is steadily improving,” said Humphers, whose Miners stand at 0-1 in the DVC, with three games to go. “I know our players believe if we keep working hard we’re going to turn this corner.
“I see improvement every Friday night. We’re so close to turning the corner. And we have to turn the corner this week.”
To contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4240.
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